Ohm. When you think of meditation, maybe you imagine a peaceful monk sitting cross-legged in a temple somewhere in Asia.
Meditation is something everyone can benefit from and you don’t have to study for years to achieve the state of calm and nothingness to your path to Nirvana to understand its value. Meditation requires mental discipline and the practice is all part of the journey. There are dozens of types of meditation and several ways to practice, but the roads all lead to the same place - tranquility, clarity and focus. If you have ever noticed a professional athlete before a big game, you often find them in a sort of laser-focused daze; even that is a form of meditation.
The benefits of meditation affect mind, body and soul. Mentally, meditation increases serotonin levels, which make up feel happy and balanced. It decreases anxiety and stress, allowing us to open our minds to positive things. Depression is often lessened and even the most stressful situations are more easily tolerated by those who practice meditation regularly. Physically, meditation has been known to decrease blood pressure, increase oxygen flow, relieve muscle tension and improve sleep and the immune system. Many people who meditate experience an “inner peace” and understanding of the world around them, as well as a heightened awareness of inner self.
It’s pretty spectacular to think that all of those things could be achieved by sitting in silence or chanting rhythmically, but it has been working since antiquity and believe it or not, it’s tougher than you might ever think.
Those new to meditation often do well focusing the mind on breathing or even an object, word or image. You can also focus on a state of being or feeling, like compassion or faith, which is a wonderful way to invite all of those things into your mind. As you become better at quieting your mind and emptying it of thoughts, the real search for Inner Self begins, and ask anyone who meditates…it’s a lifelong process.
Meditation keeps a lot of people balanced and feeling comfortable in their own skin everyday. If you have never tried it and think it could help you (it can!), here are some very useful tips: Meditate daily. A good place to start would be twice a day for at least 10 minutes each time. Sit in a place where you will not be disturbed. Focus on a pleasant memory before you start and allow your breathing to become regular and focused. Tell yourself that any thoughts, plans or suggestions you have for yourself can wait until after you are done (they can!). You’ll soon find that thinking about nothing takes a lot of discipline, but if at first you have a difficult time clearing your mind, give yourself a break. It’s called the “practice” of meditation for a reason.
Once you get in a flow, you’re sure to realize that meditation is a wonderful gift to give yourself every day. The world isn’t going anywhere, but wouldn’t it be nice to know you can escape it for a few minutes a day and come back with a more positive outlook, as well as a healthier body and mind?